Assembly District 18 candidate Rob Bonta held on to his lead over Abel Guillen in their head-to-head race -- but barely. Very late returns showed the race for the Assembly seat was just too close to call.
Their campaigns were marked from the start by similarities. They're both Democrats. They both said they want to be the district's voice in Sacramento and tried to use their personal biographies to get there.
They also shared a growing disapproval for the state's handing of the timing and cost involved in the high-speed rail project and a disdain for the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. And the two candidates shared their support for the Proposition 30 tax increase.
Bonta was elected to the Alameda City Council and works as a deputy city attorney for San Francisco. He is the former director of the Alameda Health Care District.
Bonta highlights his background as the son of United Farm Workers activists and would be the first Filipino elected to the California Assembly.
His priorities could be summed up as better schools, safer streets, more prosperous communities and a strong social safety net. He said he would try to protect school funding by working with fellow lawmakers to pass an oil extraction tax and closing corporate loopholes.
He wants to carve out a tax-increment financing package for former military bases like the Oakland Army Base and the decommissioned naval air base in Alameda, which lost redevelopment funding when the agencies were dissolved.
He wants to set up a state fund to help fight crime in cities that experience spikes in violence.
Business regulations would be streamlined with an online or one-stop agency.
Guillen is a public financial adviser by trade who highlights his working-class roots and said he was the first in his family to graduate from college. He was elected to the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees in 2006.
The top issues in District 18, according to Guillen, are hunger, a high dropout rate and double-digit unemployment.
The solutions, Guillen said, involve public education, health care and public safety.
He would draw on state and federal funds to help build the state's infrastructure and partner with solar and green tech companies in the district to create more jobs.
He said his six years on the board of the four-campus, 30,000-student Peralta district prepared him for the Assembly. Guillen boasted that he stood up for the district and that he pushed for the ouster of former Peralta district Chancellor Elihu Harris, who was investigated for financial misconduct.
Guillen's strong progressive stance on education and other issues won him support of education and labor PACs.
Bonta gained support for his experience as an elected official, having served on the Alameda City Council, where his overtly pro-development decisions prompted a recall campaign. Guillen repudiated the effort against his former political ally. However, he also accused Bonta of violating campaign finance disclosure rules during his 2010 Alameda City Council run.